Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Tusk
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

The Fault in Our Stars
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language
Release Date:
June 6, 2014

This is Where I Leave You
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

Think Like a Man Too
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material
Release Date:
June 20, 2014

The Maze Runner
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

Godzilla
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
Release Date:
May 16, 2014

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:1964

Plot: In this blackest of black comedies, a “Duck Soup” for the Cold War era, a rogue American general named Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) goes mad and sends planes to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union. He cuts off all communication to the base, and only he knows the three-letter code to cancel the attack.

The mild-mannered President of the United States (Peter Sellers) and Captain Mandrake, a highly civilized British officer (Sellers again) are no match for the bloodthirsty General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) and the demented Dr. Strangelove (Sellers again!), a former Nazi expert on nuclear weapons whose arm gets out of control, giving a “Heil, Hitler” salute and even trying to choke him. Turgidson’s view is that America should take advantage of the accidental initiation of war to fight to the finish and establish American supremacy. Mandrake is unable to trick Ripper into revealing the code, but, after Ripper commits suicide, following his explanation that flouridation is a communist plot, Mandrake figures it out. He is almost prevented from revealing it, however, when the suspicious Col. “Bat” Guano (Keenan Wynn) arrives in search of Ripper, and then when it turns out that no one has change for the pay phone. At the last minute, the correct code is sent, but an enterprising American pilot insists on carrying out the mission. The Americans spend their last moments designing a post-nuclear world, where the few remaining people live in mine-shafts, with ten women (selected for their fertility and appeal) for every man. The Soviet ambassador thinks this is an outstanding idea, but Turgidson still worries that the Soviets might have more mine shafts than the Americans.

Discussion: Teens who view this movie may need some background to understand the sense of helpless peril of the Cold War years. More important, they may need some preparation to understand the nature of black comedy, and some may find it very disturbing, particularly the unconventional ending, in which the world is annihilated. This can be a good way to initiate discussions about the nature of war and peace (begin with Ripper’s quote from Clemeanceu about war’s being too important to be left to the generals), and about the best ways of ensuring an enduring peace.

Questions for Kids:

· What do you think of making fun of issues like madness and nuclear desctruction? Does it make you feel more or less comfortable about the possibility of nuclear war?

· If the movie were to be made today, what details would be changed? Who would the nuclear threat come from?

· Who should decide when to initiate nuclear warfare?

Connections: The same issues are addressed in a serious dramatic context in “Failsafe,” released the same year. Some of the same issues of control of the war machinery are raised by “Wargames” and even by “Independence Day” (which has an explicit reference to this movie in Randy Quaid’s attack on the alien spaceship).

Activities: Teens should see if they can find out what the current state of nuclear disarmamant is and what the current issues are.

Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2000

Audiences will feel like their own hearts are two sizes too large at the end of this wonderful sugarplum of a movie.

Based, of course, on the classic Christmas story by Dr. Seuss, this is the story of a Christmas-hating Grinch who tries to steal Christmas from the Christmas-loving Whos by taking all of their presents and decorations. But they and he realize that Christmas is in their hearts, not under their trees. The movie seamlessly expands the story to let us explore Whoville and its residents and to tell us just how the Grinch came to hate Christmas in the first place. Both are sheer delight.

Whoville, as imagined by production designer Michael Corenblith, is the most breathtakingly magical setting since Dorothy landed in Munchkinland. Every detail of the town is perfectly Seuss-ian. The structures suspend the laws of gravity, with no stright lines or right angles. Instead, there are a fantastic series of archways, bridges, stairs and spirals. Whoville clothes and hairstyles echo these shapes and then are topped with candy canes, cups of hot chocolate, and frosted cookies.

Jim Carrey and the Grinch were made for each other. In a miracle of costume and make-up design and an even bigger miracle of acting, Carrey’s extraordinarily expressive face and body make the Grinch seem hilarious, touching, and a little scary all at the same time. Newcomer Taylor Momsen, as Cindy Lou-Who, is adorable without being sugary. She confesses to having her own doubts about Christmas. She can tell that the Grinch is lonely and hurt, and much less scary than he would like to appear. Just as the Grinch is less grouchy than he would like us to believe, Cindy Lou is less sweet than the Whos want to think they are. It turns out that both of them know more about the Christmas spirit than anyone else in Whoville.

The settings and costumes and the Grinch himself are so mesmerizing that it would be easy to miss the rest of the cast, but Bill Irwin as Cindy Lou’s harried mailman father, Jeffrey Tambor as the vain mayor, and Christine Baranksi as a Who with Christmas decorations that would make Martha Stewart gnash her teeth in envy all make vivid impressions. The script has some clever lines, including a parody of the film’s director (former “Andy Griffith Show” star Ron Howard) and a dig at those who say that “kids today are desensitized by movies and television.” Another of the movie’s great joys is hearing Anthony Hopkins reads Seuss’ words the way we have always heard them in our hearts.

Parents should know that the movie is rated PG for brief crude humor (the Grinch tricks another character into kissing a dog’s rear end) and comic peril. The movie may be too intense and overwhelming for children under 6 or 7. The movie’s one major drawback is the near-absence of people of color in Whoville, unfathomable and unforgivable. Families that do not celebrate Christmas may also have some concerns about the movie.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it is so easy to forget the simple pleasures of the winter holidays, and how damaging it can be to peoples’ feelings to tease them about being different. The Grinch often does things that he thinks will make him feel better. Do they work? Do they help him forget his loneliness? Why not? Why doesn’t being bad feel as good as you might think?

Families who enjoy this movie should also see the classic animated version, with the unforgettable voice performance of Boris Karloff and the song (briefly reprised in this movie) “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

Dr. Dolittle 2

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2001

Before the opening credits are over, we’ve seen bathroom jokes and sexual humor, but at least this time it’s rated PG.

It really is a shame, because Eddie Murphy is just great as Dr. Dolittle, content to be the straight man to an adorable assortment of wise-cracking animals. And the story is a cute one. It’s a twist on the old classic “Born Free.” Dolittle needs to introduce a tame bear into the forest so that he can mate with the last female of their endangered species, in order to protect the forest from developers. Steve Zahn and Lisa Kudrow provide voices for the two bears so deliciously perfect that we want them to get together as much as Dolittle does. Meanwhile, Dolittle has some problems at home with a teen-aged daughter who has a new boyfriend (rapper Lil’ Zane) and a secret she isn’t ready to discuss.

Parents should know that the movie is raunchier than the usual PG, with a lot of bathroom humor and sexual references (kids may ask what it means to be “in heat”), but it is much milder and sweeter than other Murphy vehicles like the PG-13-rated first episode and the “Nutty Professor” movies.

Families who see this movie should talk about the difficulty of responding to the needs of the family and the responsibility to help others. They may also want to talk about the way that children sometimes feel embarassed by their parents, and the importance of listening to the people you love. Families might want to spend some time in a nature preserve and discuss ways to make sure that animals are treated with respect and dignity.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Cats and Dogs.” They might like to see the original “Dr. Dolittle” movie, a musical starring Rex Harrison.

Driven

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2001

It’s a good thing that the people who will want to see this movie are not too concerned about the plot, dialogue or performances, because the people who made the movie were not too concerned about them either. The plot is predictable, the dialogue is even more predictable, and the performances are barely noticeable. They are just there to give the audience a chance to catch its breath between the scenes that they came for, the scenes with very, very fast cars.

Though it never uses the term, the movie is about Formula One drivers, and the script, by co-star Sylvester Stallone, seems to come from movie script formula one, too, with pieces from the various Rocky films transposed to the world of racecars and himself in the Burgess Meredith/Yoda role. What matters here are the racing scenes, and the racing scenes are worth seeing. Director Renny Harlin (who also directed Stallone in “Cliffhanger”) has a gift for putting the audience in the center of the action, and that is where the movie delivers. When not much is happening on screen, Harlin uses flashy cuts and music-video-style camera tricks with film speed to pump a little more energy into the story.

Kip Pardue (“Sunshine” the quarterback in last year’s “Remember the Titans”) plays Jimmy Blye, a talented young driver who is winning a lot of races and may take the world championship title away from the reigning champ, Beau Brandenberg (Til Schweiger). Beau gets rattled and dumps his girlfriend of three years because she is “a distraction.” Jimmy is coping with another kind of distraction. His ambitious manager/brother (Robert Sean Leonard) is pushing him very hard on and off the racetrack. When Jimmy crashes his car, the team owner (Burt Reynolds) brings in former champ Joe Tanto (Stallone) to provide back up and focus.

There is some story line about which of the drivers the girl really cares about, and something about Tanto’s ex-wife (Gina Gershon, by far the liveliest person on the screen), now married to another driver whom she describes to Tanto as “a younger, better you.” Tanto has to help Jimmy find the part of himself that just loves driving fast (the thing that in “Rocky III” was called “the eye of the tiger” but in this movie is just called “it” or something like that), some choices need to be made, and some old scores need to be settled.

But it is the racing that matters, and that is terrific. Jimmy and Tanto attend a black tie party in Chicago where their cars are on display. In one delirious scene, they impulsively drive the racecars off onto the city streets, slamming around corners, screeching through underpasses, and leaving chaos and admiring onlookers in their wake. The scenes on the track are bone-crunching, heart-thumping, you-are-in-the-driver’s-seat exciting and the crashes are heartbreaking.

Parents should know that the movie has some strong language, smoking and drinking, and tense and scary accident scenes. A character is badly hurt, and another character has been disabled as a result of a racing accident. A character betrays a member of his family and there are other tense confrontations. There are also a lot of girls in revealing outfits, with tiny t-shirts promoting various racing sponsors.

Families who see this movie should talk about how teammates decide when to help each other and when to compete against each other and how to maintain focus on what really matters. They should also talk about the choices made by Jimmy and Beau when one of the other drivers is injured and about why Jimmy’s brother behaves the way he does. They may also want to discuss why people continue to compete in and buy tickets for such dangerous sports, given tragic losses like champion Dale Earnhardt.

Viewers who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Cliffhanger” and two other racing movies, “Days of Thunder” with Tom Cruise and “Winning,” with Paul Newman and Robert Wagner.

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